First impressions count.
Being punctual for a job interview. Offering a firm handshake at the start of a meeting. Checking your teeth for stray spinach before a blind date.
These memorable manners in the real world are just as important when it comes to email etiquette.
As a subscription-based business, welcoming new subscribers with effective and enticing emails is a crucial component of your marketing plan.
Make a fantastic first impression during the first steps of the customer journey and your database will thank you for it in the long-run.
The Growing Subscription Market
From magazines and newspapers to fresh veg and beauty goodies, the subscription market has expanded in recent years. The popularity of subscription boxes, which offer a member experience based on a selection of carefully-curated products, has driven this rise.
A Royal Mail report revealed that the subscription box market is forecast to grow from £583 million to £1 billion by 2022. This translates to an increase in delivery numbers from 40.1 million to 65.3 million.
Their 2018 survey of 2,000 shoppers found that 27.4% of UK consumers are already signed up to a service, rising to 52.1% among 25-34-year-olds.
And from a business perspective, six in ten reported that they want to invest in new or existing subscription services in the next year.
This growing demand and increase in competition means the on-boarding process for new subscribers must be as slick as possible.
Setting up a customer-pleasing email sequence is the easiest option.
Alongside increasing the likelihood that a new subscriber will stick around, setting up an on-boarding workflow for new members can:
- Immediately establish and meet expectations
- Quickly familiarise subscribers with your brand
- Set your carefully-researched tone of voice
- Encourage engagement
- Improve conversion rates
- Drive traffic to your website and social media pages
Here’s how to do it.
Step #1: Welcome Them
You’ve got a new subscriber. They’ve been persuaded by the style and content of your sign-up messaging and are eager to find out more.
They don’t know much about you – yet. Are you going to deliver on your promises?
So, welcome them straightaway: your app or website is open before them, you’ve got their attention, your brand is front of mind.
An immediate email will keep the conversation going, moving them through the customer journey with a friendly hello and more information.
They’ll know that they’ve signed up successfully and that you already value their custom. Encouraged by the warmth of your welcome, they’ll be more likely to open your second and third email.
Step #2: Give Them Value
Consumers now expect something in return for their valuable data.
Beyond an excellent customer service experience, which isn’t something that can or should be invoiced separately, you need to offer them something in exchange.
Start to fulfil your sign-up promise straightaway. Whether you have an irresistible discount, an interesting and informative blog or limited edition product, tell them more about it. Don’t make them wait for the juicy stuff. They won’t be impressed and could forget about your brand altogether.
Combine your welcome email with a value-added message and the member experience will already be off to a flying start.
Step #3: Make Them Feel Special
At this stage, you have limited data about your new subscriber. If you have their name already, use it and make it personal.
To help them navigate through the sea of emails they receive each day, offer a preference centre so they can choose how you communicate with them.
And choose your subject lines carefully. An irrelevant message early on in your relationship could make the customer journey shudder to a halt.
As your data about new subscribers develops over time, you can tailor your correspondence even more closely to their needs. Use data analytics to get to know their likes and dislikes, along with obstacles on the path to purchase that you can help to overcome.
Step #4: Send Them An Email Series
Don’t limit yourself to a single welcome email. Yours could be just one of several landing in their inbox that day. Make it memorable by continuing the conversation.
To tick all the customer service experience boxes, you need to keep the communication flowing clearly without bombarding them with too much information.
Sending multiple emails may seem counter-productive to this, but plan and write them with thought and each one will serve a different purpose that will inform rather than irritate.
Here’s a suggested on-boarding email sequence that can be adopted and adapted to suit your audience and brand values:
- A welcome message, confirmation of successful sign-up and an initial offer. Your subscribers are reassured that they’ve completed the process correctly and are immediately attracted by a great deal.
- An introduction to your most popular subscription packages, with the relevant deal or discount. This acts as a reminder, showcasing your offering and providing up-selling opportunities.
- A useful piece of content from your blog, ideally one that has secured plenty of traction and interaction. This serves to share knowledge and convince members that you’re worth engaging with.
- An engaging video related to your product: a recipe demonstration if you provide meal kits or a how to guide to applying your make-up.
- Once their first delivery has been dispatched, a confirmation message that their goodies will be with them soon. This provides a reassuring message that can convey excitement and engender trust.
And don’t forget to add a call to action in each one to keep the customer journey on the right tracks.
This initial on-boarding email process can take place over the first week, establishing the relationship and creating a helpful member experience that builds your brand.
After this, you can reduce the frequency of emails, adapting your messaging to each new subscribers’ unique needs. Ask them for their preferences about how often you get in touch: don’t be the company that fills their inbox with unwanted junk.
Instead, treat them individually to encourage click-throughs and positive interactions. You’ll be giving them a customer service experience that they want to repeat.
Step #5: Impress Them
The simplest of mistakes can make your new subscriber quickly regret ever signing up to your service.
From a poorly-targeted message to badly-proofread copy, or a non-mobile-friendly design to faulty functionality, they can all jeopardise that all-important first impression.
So establish your tone of voice and brand values, check and re-check your copy for errors, design with attention to detail and regularly check that your emails work well with ever-changing HTML and CSS set-ups.
Step #6: Keep Them Happy
Successful on-board complete, the next challenge is to retain your subscribers by keeping them happy and loyal.
The aim here is to minimise unsubscribes. Once your amazing products start doing the talking, you may think your work is done.
But to maintain a perpetually-appealing service, you need to keep your offer fresh:
- Introduce new products regularly to spark excitement and boost sales
- Take the decision-making process away and suggest alternative items based on their previous choices
- Send a handwritten note with an order for that personal touch
- Offer a free gift at sign-up anniversaries to thank them for their loyalty
- Play on the power of discovery and offer them a deal on a mystery product
- Refine your delivery options for ultimate convenience
- Offer flexibility with payment methods
The beauty of a subscription-based business model is in its relative certainty: XX number of people have signed up, the business needs to order XX amount of product, revenue will be XX this month.
This has a direct, positive effect on efficiency and waste through the supply chain, especially for fresh food products.
Despite this level of reassurance, unsubscribes will still happen and need to be accounted for. Circumstances will change, brand perceptions will ebb and flow, confusion over your offering will crop up.
In addition, committing to a subscription can be a big decision, especially if your products are luxuries, not necessities. Will I be tied into a long, unbreakable contract? Can I conveniently downgrade or upgrade my subscription?
One way to address these concerns and minimise unsubscribes is to think about how customers can pay you most easily on a regular basis.
Direct Debit, for example, will allow you to change the amount your subscribers are charged. This gives them the flexibility to add or take items away from their subscription or to request a delivery bi-monthly instead of monthly.
And while they can be certain that their order will arrive on time, you can be sure that their payment will arrive in your account on the expected date. A smooth transaction for all that’s based on trust and certainty.
Your evolving relationship with new subscribers is a delicate one. Get it right and you’ll have loyal customers who love your products and service and want to shout about it.